Editor's Note: Our features editor at Boats.com, Carol Cronin, sent me the following guest blog recently, which she entitled "Educating Carol," and her story speaks for itself (except she manages to omit the fact that she's not just a casual sailor, but the type also capable of winning two races in the Olympic Yngling class in Greece in 2004). I'll also add a universal truth about boats and boating; nobody knows everything about every type of boat and nobody ever will. New stuff is being invented all the time. Old stuff is constantly being rediscovered. That's one of the things that makes our subject matter at Boats.com so damn interesting. —John Burnham
For the past several months, I’ve been helping editorial director John Burnham organize and post stories on Boats.com. My boating resume fits squarely within the “sailor” category (not unlike John's) and includes all forms, from small boat racing to offshore cruising. Summer evenings are spent idling (up-current first) along the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, on a motor-free 21 foot Herreshoff Marlin only a few years younger than my parents. Two 10-foot spruce oars get us back to the mooring if the wind dies before sunset.
Most of the boats I race don’t have engines either, so over the years I’ve perfected many alternate propulsion methods like rocking and sculling. The last resort - which seems to work especially well for my all-women’s teams - is flagging down a friendly powerboat.
Yes, it’s true, powerboats are appreciated even by diehard sailors. Coach boats, launches, and race committee boats would all be useless without engines. But would I go out on a powerboat purely for pleasure? Nope.
(OK, I’ll admit… I did go for one pleasure cruise with my videographer husband on his Sailfish. The photo at left was taken just after a lovely afternoon swim, before we sped across to Newport for a boat-gawking harbor tour. I swear, he owned the boat for work and we only used it for fun this one time.)
I signed on to help John knowing I’d need to learn how to identify all the different types of powered boats. Columnist Charles Plueddeman kindly sent in a PWC Glossary of Terms just in time to bring me (and John) up to speed. Brett Becker supplied us with his Essential Tow-boat Glossary, though in my blissful ignorance I still tried to lead with a photo of a lowly runabout.
Other regular columnists have also helped out along the way. High performance specialist Matt Trulio kindly checks my captions to make sure I haven’t mistaken an outdrive for a stern-hung rudder. And Kim Kavin provides a glimpse into the world of large motor yachts, though she still hasn’t convinced me that marble is a necessity on any type of boat.
My powerboat education is far from complete, but I am making progress. Why, just last week, driving over the Newport Bridge, I corrected Paul (who was concentrating on the road and couldn’t see as well). “That’s not a center console down there – it’s a runabout.”
Carol Cronin, the self-described Features Editor for Boats.com, is the author of Oliver's Surprise: A Boy, a Schooner, and the Great Hurricane of 1938.